The Stress Paradox (Part 1/2) – The 200 words project

Researchers asked people in 121 countries – “Did you experience a great deal of stress yesterday?” Using the data, they computed a stress index. Then, a group of psychologists used the data to look for correlations with indices of wellbeing like life expectancy, GDP or happiness. The results turned out to be the opposite of what they were expecting – the higher the nation’s stress index, the better the nation’s wellbeing metrics.

More recently, a group of psychologists asked a broad sample of people to reflect on whether or not they felt like their lives had meaning. They then gave people a whole bunch of other surveys to find out predictors of having a meaningful life, or feeling like your life is meaningful. And, it turns out one of the best predictors is stress – any way you measure it.

The researchers found that stress accompanies factors like adversity and worry – both of which predicted meaning. As a result, one of their main conclusions was that people who have a meaningful life worry more and experience much more stress than people with a less meaningful life.

So, how do we switch our negative perceptions of stress? Coming up next week..

We view stress as a signal that either we are inadequate to the challenges of our lives or that our lives have actually become toxic and we might actually turn our attention to trying to avoid the things that give rise to stress. This changes everything – that stress could be a signal that you are engaged in the goals, in the roles, the relationships, you’re pursuing the goals and that you’re facing the challenges that will also give rise to meaning in your life. –  Kelly McGonigal (paraphrased)

Source and thanks to: Kelly McGonigal @ 99U

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